Museum exhibits four-eyed fish

Friday, November 16
PITTSFIELD — Go ahead, call them four eyes, they won't mind. They don't even have glasses.

In fact, they're born with two pairs of peepers.

"They" are part of a new school of fish at the aquarium at the Berkshire Museum.

Over the past few weeks, aquarist Scott Jervas has been busy making homes for two new species of fish, including a four-eyed brackish breed known as Anableps. The aquarium also has three new Amazon River natives called banded cichlid.

Acquisition of the fish came about as part of an aquarist exchange program. Jervas is a member of an online network of about 900 aquarium scientists who trade surplus species and supplies as well as information and tips for managing aquarium life.

The four-eyed fish are like minnows with asymmetrical eyes and a unique reproductive system.

"They can see clearly both above and below water simultaneously," said Jervas. He believes that the whirligig beetle is the only other species with such specialized vision.

In addition, the four-eyed fish are onesided livebearers, meaning they only mate on one side. Males whose reproductive organs are on the right can only breed with left-"handed" females and vice versa.

"People come here and go 'Ooh, look — piranhas!' But there's much more," Jervas said. "Piranhas are boring."


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